2016 Is Almost Over and Growth Hacking Is Still Bullshit

What the Hell Is It, Actually?

Growth hacking has been a buzz word since 2010 when Sean Ellis coined the term to describe his consulting role focusing on growth within startups.

But what does it actually mean? Honestly, there’s really no agreed upon definition. For some people, it means a strategic focus on growth as a company. However, outside of mom-and-pop shops, don’t all companies want to do this? Yep, they do.

Fool Me Once, Shame on Me. Fool Me Twice, It’s Growth Hacking!

Sometimes it means using tricks to grow your customer base. Within this understanding, buying thousands of Instagram followers so it looks like your product is really popular is included.

Don’t believe me? I talked with a potential client two weeks ago who used this exact “growth hacking strategy”, as he called it, to “make it look like he had a large following for investors”.

A basic scan of his account showed that none of his followers were real, he had no engagement, and that the product itself lacked any kind of validated customer interest. I’m sure investors will be banging down his door for this fast tracked startup!

Bullshit, It’s What’s Trending

The reality is that growth hacking is bullshit. Entrepreneurs with vision have always focused on growth.

I love ponies and you best not forget it!

You could make the argument that growth hackers focus on agile marketing and product development, but this is really lean startup methodology that has been in vogue since almost the same time.

Lean startups work because they focus on market-drive results, not hacks.

It’s also what any good marketer worth his salt does.

From The Horse’s Mouth

Let’s take a look at Entrepreneur.com’s article “6 Growth Hack Techniques You Can Try Today” to see just how stupid this is. Here are the 6 techniques as listed by none other than Neil Patel himself:

1) Start a Blog. Holy shit? A blog. Genius! With blogs a dime a dozen these days, surely this will rocket your startup to 6-figure revenue in, oh, 5–6 years.

2) Guest Post. Shit just got real holmes. Not only are we starting blogs up in here, we be guest postin.

3) Build Your Personal Brand. Yep, super easy. Just growth hack your way to success by implementing an extremely time intensive, uncertain path to personal fame.

4) Harvest Email Addresses. A novel idea, no? Who would have ever thought you should collect potential customer information in order to market to them at a later point. Next thing you know, Neil will be suggesting we set up a lead and sales funnel.

5) Hire a Growth Hacker. Well, that’s smart, right? If you can’t figure out how to start a blog, guest post, or perhaps develop a lead magnet to capture email addresses, you could hire a growth hacker to come up with such brilliant ideas for you.

6) Really Understand Your Data. So, let’s review. We have ideas such as: create content, build brand, collect customer information, and make evidence-based decisions. Boy, sounds like marketing, doesn’t it?

That’s because that’s exactly what it is. Growth hacking is a bullshit name given to marketing, it just sounds cooler.

The Real 5 Growth Hack Techniques You Must Try Today

As the title alludes to, 2016 is almost over, but growth hacking seems here to stay. With that in mind, here are my own 5 growth hacking tips that you can start today (Thinking of 6 seemed like too much of a waste of time on such a ridiculous topic).

1) If you meet a growth hacker, stop listening to them immediately.

2) If you see #growthhacking in someone’s LinkedIn or Twitter profile bio, stop following that person immediately.

3) If you’re wondering how to growth hack your own business, stop and think about how you can market your business. Then think about how that marketing will lead to sales.

4) If you want to grow your business, make sure you have a great product or service. Then learn how to sell the fuck out of it. The ONLY thing that grows a real business is sales. If you don’t believe me, ask Glengarry Glen Ross.

5) If you call yourself a growth hacker, stop, just stop. No, no, seriously, don’t make defensive comments on this article. Just. Stop.

There you have it ladies and gentlemen. I sincerely hope that, as we move into 2017, you can get back to the basics of business building and leave trendy, over-hyped, and bullshit strategies behind.

If you really want to know how to start, market, and grow a business, then you need to join my private Facebook Group. This group is for those focused on building something larger than themselves. We’re a bunch of bootstrappers that are going to change the world through tried and true business principals, not gimmicks. We’re just getting started, so now’s the time to get in. Click on the picture to join.

Nick Jaworski is the Owner and Chief Digital Community Builder for Circle Social Inc., a Strategic Digital Marketing Agency in Indianapolis. He writes in order to push himself and others to accomplish their dreams. He is also devoted father of a beautiful little girl that speaks Mandarin Chinese, Turkish, and English. Twitter & Snapchat: @NBJaworski